Esoteric City • 2009 • Weird novelette by Bruce Sterling

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Synopsis: Achille Occhietti is the boss of a car producer in Turin (Fiat) and also a powerful necromancer. He meets his mentor, an ancient Egyptian engineer, the mummy Djoser, who needs to convoy him to the Gate of Hell (located in Turin’s sewer system, where also the Holy Grail is located) to meet Satan (Ochietti felt a purer terror yet. “He’s speaking in iambic pentameter!”).

“At the end, they weigh your human heart against a feather. And if your guilty heart is any heavier than that feather, then they feed your entrails straight to the demonic hippopotamus.”
Occhietti considered this. “How did that trial work out for you, Djoser?”
“Well, I failed,” said Djoser glumly.

Review: This highly allegorical, satirical narration brings together everything esoteric about the beautiful town of Turin: The largest European Egyptian museum, the gate of hell, the black and white esoteric triangles (Prague, Lyon, Turin vs. San Francisco, London, Turin), the Shroud of Turin

Italian Catholic Hell is truly different from regular hell, and engineers get a special feather to weigh their souls:

“Dante’s Hell was so solemn, medieval, and majestic,” Occhietti lamented. “There’s nothing down here but one huge Italian mess!”
“This is your Hell,” his spirit guide pointed out. “Dante’s Hell was all about Dante, while your Hell is all about you.”
“They claimed that the afterlife would be about justice for everybody,” said Occhietti.
“This is an Italian hell. Did you ever see Italian justice?” The mummy was being reasonable.

I fell heads over heel in love with this story, applauded the final plot twist, marveled at the peculiar character, and had to laugh all over the wonderful ideas. 

Meta: isfdb. I’ve read it it in the collection Robot Artists and Black Swans.

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5 Responses to Esoteric City • 2009 • Weird novelette by Bruce Sterling

  1. pdtillman says:

    Oh, good. One to look forward to!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jeanne says:

    Does necromancy pay???

    Liked by 1 person

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